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One can never guess looking at the dilapidated Pune Stock Exchange building at 754-B, Sadashiv Peth, that it houses a man who helped orchestrate one of the darkest moments -- though he steadfastly denies it was one -- of Indian history.

Yet, isn't that how it goes? Those who make history, for whatever sort, are relegated to the shadows once their time is over.

Gopal Godse, 85, is one such man.

He is the only surviving member of the five who were convicted for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi at New Delhi's Birla House on January 30, 1948.

Nathuram Godse, his elder brother, and Narayan Apte were hanged, while Gopal Godse, Vishnu Karkare, and Madanlal Pahwa were handed life terms.

Godse, who was a storekeeper in the Indian Army Ordnance Corps before the assassination, served out his 18 year term in various jails in Aurangabad, Delhi, Ambala, and Nasik. After his release, he started writing to make a living.

He preached Hindutva long before the ochre-clad Uma Bharti or the trishul-carrying Pravin Togadia made it fashionable.

Photographs and Text: Salil Kumar

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